Polish start-up – immense innovation or false hopes?

February 6, 2013 in Business News, International, Investments, Lifestyle, Markets, New Technologies, Polish Business, Science

Polish start up 300x216 Polish start up   immense innovation or false hopes?

Graphic © vege – Fotolia.com

Start-ups, start-ups, start-ups … Wherever you go, whatever you read, they seem to be everywhere. Poland is no different, perhaps even more so that the “old money” nations like the US or UK. Are we really, as a nation, a new Sillicon Valley as some like to think, or is there still a long way ahead of us? Does a Polish start-up even have a chance in todays on-line world?


OK, so by starting this blog I have, more or less, committed myself to supporting the whole Internet movement with hope, like that of many before me, to make some money from web-publishing (not from this blog, mind you, but from a few other ideas that are somehow circling around my head). Living my day-to-day life in Poland I get the impression, as probably the majority of the general public, that our Polish start-up business is booming.

New ideas come into daylight almost constantly. You can check out pages like mamBiznes.pl or mamStartup.pl for a nice list of new startups. The lists keep growing, and growing, and growing … some of the ideas seem to be pretty crazy (but then, maybe that’s the good starting point for success) while others are either copy cats or simply utilizing well known business models. Many of them don’t make it through the first year …

… but there are the selected few who do make it, and they make it in style. Can a Polish start-up make it as such, and then, can it make it in an interational environment? Sure they can. Every year there are new success stories of companies having made it locally in Poland and are now expanding abroad. Polish start-up projects like znanyLekarz.pl (a search engine and comparison utility designed to help users find appropriate and well recommended doctors) are now present in many countries. This particular one – in five (Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia) with a total of 2,5 mln users each month. And then there are smartphone apps like listonic.com allowing people from virtually all over the world, to create interactive, shearable shopping lists. So now your kids just add something to the list from home and shows up on your screen so you don’t forget that additional box of Oreo while doing groceries. Another Polish start-up success story.

There are more. Many more. But for now I’m having trouble finding out how many of all the ones that appear actually make it. I guess it would be also difficult to define what “making it” actually means in the Polish start-up business. Judging from the lists i linked to in the second paragraph, many don’t make it. Also, judging by the same list, many have financing problems typical to start-up’s as I would have never heard of them if it wasn’t for those lists. So no (or poor) marketing.

On the other hand, venture capitalists are searching the Polish market like crazy for investment opportunities. We are currently in a situation in which there’s an overflow of capital, meaning that VC’s have a problem with allocating their resources. Apparently, as some of them publicly say (like here) the Polish start-up projects lack the “thinking big” trend of like minded Western entrepreneurs.

I can see that being true in Polish business in general. People are still to scared or self conscious and under-value themselves. This is not just in a Polish start-up, it’s more in Polish life in general. But I’m very happy to see so many projects and so many young people willing to take the challenge. Many succeed – that’s also very promising. And the availability of venture capital can give Polish start-up projects the lift-off they will certainly need to go off and change the world.

What’s the start-up business look like in your country? Let me know!